U of R physics department investigates juiced baseballs | WHEC.com

U of R physics department investigates juiced baseballs

August 30, 2019 05:37 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It has completely changed America's pastime. Homeruns are on the rise across baseball, specifically in Triple-A, the level that the Red Wings play. This year, Triple-A baseball began using the same baseball that has been used in the majors since 2015 and that “juiced” baseball means that homerun totals are through the roof.

This year, the Rochester Red Wings broke their franchise record for home runs in a season with 25 games left in the season. A large reason for the homerun spike is the new baseball in Triple-A that is believed to be juiced, but we wanted to know how juiced it is. For that, we went to the physics department at the University of Rochester.  

JJ Ruby is a graduate student at the U of R and tested an unused baseball from 2018 as well as an unused baseball from 2019. Each ball was dropped from the same height onto a non-moving surface to test the coefficient of restitution, effectively testing how the ball bounces off the bat.

"The bouncier it is, the faster it will exit the bat when it's hit,” Ruby said.

In a chart from Ruby's experiment of the baseballs, the blue markers represent the new baseball, the red markers are the ball from 2018, and the results are staggering. 

"There's a significant difference in the bounciness compared to the 2018 minor league ball,” Ruby said. "So that's to say that a ball with an exit velocity of 100 miles per hour in 2018 would have an exit velocity of 105 miles per hour in 2019 and that is certainly a significant difference."

We're talking warning track fly outs to no-doubter home runs difference.  Zander Wiel leads the Red Wings in home runs this season and says he's noticed a difference with the baseball.

"These balls this year...they've been going and that's why you see the rise in numbers,” Wiel said. “All the production, extra-base hits and stuff we're seeing."

This weekend is your last chance to see these baseballs in action in Rochester. The Red Wings open a four-game series with Syracuse Friday night. However, the baseballs will be flying out of the park in the majors through the World Series.


Rich Donnelly

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